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Jenne Kay Hughes of Bernalillo, N.M., and formerly of Aztec, N.M., passed away on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012. She was born on July 29, 1933, in Rifle, Colo., to Clara Belle (Raley) and Kay Hughes. She grew up in Colorado in Rifle and Piceance Creek with brothers Boyd and Torrance and sisters Colleen, Nancy Lucky and Grace Wynn.
Following high school Jenne Kay enlisted for a short time in the U.S. Navy. She then married John Dornberger and had three children; Cindy, John and Lisa. The marriage ended and she later married Lex Burke and had her fourth child Annie Kay.
She embraced motherhood with a passion. She nurtured her children with love and kindness, teaching each one the skills and joy of life. Her children helped her realize she had more to do. She enrolled at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and later graduated Magna Cum Laude in history from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., followed by a master’s degree in special education from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo. She taught special education in Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield school districts in New Mexico, working hard to make a difference and enrich the lives of the beloved, but often challenging, children in her classroom. She took to heart Mother Teresa’s quote, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
Motherhood and teaching were not her only passions. Gardening was second nature to her and as a Master Gardener she shared her knowledge of herbs and home remedies with local organizations. She was a longtime member of the Aztec Desert Planters Garden Club. Her passion for books led her to become a founding member and scribe for an Aztec book club named TARTS (Tuesday Afternoon Reading and Thinking Society). They said, “thank goodness we do not meet on Friday!” Although her favorite author was Ursula Le Guin, she lived by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words “to leave the world a bit better.”
After retiring from teaching, Jenne Kay volunteered with several organizations. She particularly loved to teach reading to adults through the Project Read program. She hosted an exchange student Kim from Denmark, and after a successful battle with breast cancer helped newly diagnosed women cope.
She seized every opportunity to have fun, take trips, tell stories, read poetry and share her wisdom with her precious grandchildren Sarah, Miranda, Paul, Tiffany, Courtney, Naomi and Rachel. Then she was able to start those things again with great grandchildren Alaura, Violet, Eldon, Mason, Soren, Davin, Caeson, Cada, Tilden and Theresa Rose.
Jenne Kay will be missed by all the family and friends whose lives she touched, and especially by her husband of 29 years, Stephen Thomas.
Celebrations of her life were held Friday, Oct. 26 at the Bernalillo United Methodist Church, 136 W. Calle Don Andres, Bernalillo, N.M., 87004, and also on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Aztec United Methodist Church, 123 E. Chaco St., Aztec, N.M., 87410.
The family suggests memorial donations in Jenne Kay’s name support either the Bernalillo Children’s Christmas Present mission fund payable to “Bernalillo United Methodist Church” 136 W. Calle Don Andres, Bernalillo, N.M. 87004, or to the “Childhaven Foundation” 807 West Apache St., Farmington, N.M. 87401;(505)325-5358; www.childhavennm.org. Or, of course, donations to the charity of your choice.